5 ways to present on iPad

I am switching my own introduction presentation to iPad/iPhone, leaving my laptop home as a I go to meetings and instead bringing a small iOS to VGA converter cable with me (Airplaying the presentation to a big screen only works in my own office for the moment). I would recommend this to anyone who constantly needs to have her pitch/sales presentation ready to go.

As a result, I am trying all possible ways to view slides on my iPad. Only Keynote users have a perfect solution (Keynote), if you use other formats it is still compromising. In my case for example, I need PowerPoint to show example presentations that I designed a while ago. And a second complication is that I use a few custom fonts...

So here are your options, I use Dropbox to sync my files, it is still a lot more convenient than iCloud.
  1. Keynote to Keynote.  Straightforward and simple. Download in Dropbox, tick open in Keynote and you are all set. When you are in presenter mode, you get a preview of the next slide on your iPad, while the audience just sees the current slide on the projector. Only works with standard fonts that are installed on the iPad. 
  2. PowerPoint to Keynote. This works surprisingly well (if you use standard fonts). Download the PowerPoint file in Dropbox, tap open in Keynote and you have a file which is 95% OK. However, I am a perfectionist, and the 5% needs to be right as well. 
  3. SlideShark is iPad app specifically designed for presenting slides. You can upload PowerPoint files to their server, or tap a dropbox or email link and tell the iPad to open the file in SlideShark. The interface is nice, with the option to move randomly between slide tiles (which the audience cannot see) to break the lineair flow of a deck. SlideShark preserves animations in your slide. Using a special font requires a request to SlideShark technical support to install it in the data center. Unlike Keynote, SlideShark does not support the standard Apple fonts (such as Helvetica) SlideShark is not yet retina-optimized I think, the image looks slightly hazy on my screen, but I am sure an update will follow soon. The app has still some childhood diseases at the moment but it could be a clear winner in the future as the team there seems to working hard to make it work among larger competitors who are less focussed iPad presenting (i.e., Microsoft).
  4. PDF to Adobe Reader for iPad. Convert your PowerPoint file to PDF on your desktop, download it via Dropbox and select to open it in Adobe's Reader app (free). Fonts come out perfectly. The display is crystal clear, and the Adobe Reader app for iPad has a good full screen mode (unlike other document readers). Obviously PDF does not support animations
  5. PowerPoint to Adobe CreatePDF for iPad. The Adobe CreatePDF app works reasonably well for me (I do not understand all the 1-star ratings on iTunes), but (and it is a big but), only if you use standard fonts (and are willing to invest $10) and your deck does not have animations.
If you use Airplay to present from an iPhone or iPad into Apple TV, make sure to adjust your auto-lock settings (settings/general/autolock) to prevent the screen from going blank after a minute of inactivity.
Wrapping up: if you need to present from an iPad a lot, go 100% Keynote, if you can live without custom fonts, take SlideShark, for everyone else improvise with Adobe Reader for iPad. I am sure this post has to be re-written in a couple of weeks from now. Things are moving fast.

What are your experiences?

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